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Disowning the Ownership Society Naomi Klein / The Nation Remember the "ownership society, order hip & joint chews cats cod" fixture of major George W. Order hip & joint chews cats cod Bush addresses for the first four years of his presidency? "We're creating...an ownership society in this country, order hip & joint chews cats cod where more Americans than ever will be able to open up their door where they live and say, order hip & joint chews cats cod welcome to my house, order hip & joint chews cats cod welcome to my piece of property, order hip & joint chews cats cod" Bush said in October 2004. Order hip & joint chews cats cod Washington think-tanker Grover Norquist predicted that the ownership society would be Bush's greatest legacy, order hip & joint chews cats cod remembered "long after people can no longer pronounce or spell Fallujah." Yet in Bush's final State of the Union address, order hip & joint chews cats cod the once-ubiquitous phrase was conspicuously absent. Order hip & joint chews cats cod And little wonder: rather than its proud father, order hip & joint chews cats cod Bush has turned out to be the ownership society's undertaker. Well before the ownership society had a neat label, order hip & joint chews cats cod its creation was central to the success of the right-wing economic revolution around the world. Order hip & joint chews cats cod The idea was simple: if working-class people owned a small piece of the market--a home mortgage, order hip & joint chews cats cod a stock portfolio, order hip & joint chews cats cod a private pension--they would cease to identify as workers and start to see themselves as owners, order hip & joint chews cats cod with the same interests as their bosses. Order hip & joint chews cats cod That meant they could vote for politicians promising to improve stock performance rather than job conditions. Order hip & joint chews cats cod Class consciousness would be a relic. It was always tempting to dismiss the ownership society as an empty slogan--"hokum" as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich put it. Order hip & joint chews cats cod But the ownership society was quite real. Order hip & joint chews cats cod It was the answer to a roadblock long faced by politicians favoring policies to benefit the wealthy. Order hip & joint chews cats cod The problem boiled down to this: people tend to vote their economic interests. Order hip & joint chews cats cod Even in the wealthy United States, order hip & joint chews cats cod most people earn less than the average income. Order hip & joint chews cats cod That means it is in the interest of the majority to vote for politicians promising to redistribute wealth from the top down. Order hip & joint chews cats cod So what to do? It was Margaret Thatcher who pioneered a solution. Order hip & joint chews cats cod The effort centered on Britain's public housing, order hip & joint chews cats cod or council estates, order hip & joint chews cats cod which were filled with die-hard Labour Party supporters. Order hip & joint chews cats cod In a bold move, order hip & joint chews cats cod Thatcher offered strong incentives to residents to buy their council estate flats at reduced rates (much as Bush did decades later by promoting subprime mortgages). Order hip & joint chews cats cod Those who could afford it became homeowners while those who couldn't faced rents almost twice as high as before, order hip & joint chews cats cod leading to an explosion of homelessness.

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (September 2007); an earlier international best-seller, order hip & joint chews cats cod No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies; and the collection Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (2002). Order hip & joint chews cats cod

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080218/klein